Since last November, I had followed with great interest the forum thread in which designer Namssor Daguerre of Second Skin Labs shared the ongoing progress being made on a new line of male skins, MGX 2.0, a.k.a. “Adam.” What really impressed me was how Namssor not only solicited and responded to feedback regarding pictures of the skins in development, but also incorporated suggestions into the design work where possible. “Adam” was released in late January, and Namssor was kind enough to provide me a sample copy so I could review it for Men’s Second Style readers. (You can also read more about “Adam” at the Second Skin Labs website.)
If you’ve read my reviews of skins before, you already know that I think our preferences in skins are highly personal and subjective. Therefore, what works (or doesn’t work) for us in a skin is also personal and subjective. To be as helpful to readers as possible, I try to review skins in an objective a manner as I can manage. You can imagine the challenge I face! I say that not to complain about how hard my job is (oh, poor you!) but to get you on board with me regarding how I hope you’ll consider my evaluation.
This is easily the most photorealistic skin I have ever worn. That high level of realism is this skin’s defining characteristic. This is unsurprising, as Namssor indicates that the skin is about 90% photosource from high-resolution scans. If you are accustomed to hybrid, hand-drawn, or even “cartoony” skins, this one may surprise you. Here you see the smooth skin, without body or facial hair. The contouring and shading is expertly and thoughtfully done, and careful attention has been paid to the requirements and limitations of the SL avatar construction.
In this picture I’m wearing the skin with body hair and one of the five available facial hair variations (more are reportedly on the way, and will be sold separately from this initial set). I myself prefer skins without body hair, but I think this is the best I’ve seen–it’s highly realistic, neatly groomed (not a thatch or carpet), and allows the underlying muscle definition and skin shading to show through. As I hope you can tell from these pictures, this is a very masculine skin–the body is lean and muscular, but not a bodybuilder; the face is handsome, not cute. Namssor has said that he designed the skin around a “medium muscular build” (pectoral slider setting at 50% and below). Your results may be different if your avatar is substantially more “built.”
Here you see a close-up of the face under relatively neutral outdoor lighting. This is another of the available facial hair options, and I am also wearing a short prim hairstyle so you can see how the combination works (I’m sorry I don’t have anything darker, for a better match–I’m pretty much exclusively a redhead). The face is as highly detailed as the body, and I was impressed to see that I was still recognizably me even with this new skin on. We’ve all had that experience where we try on a demo skin and suddenly we no longer recognize ourselves. That did not happen here. I am still recognizably Ryan, just more decidedly masculine and less cute. The detailing of the features is very well done, and as a result the face is nicely appealing–you’ll find no chapped lips, wax-blob ears or craters for nostrils here. The eybrows seem a bit thicker and heavier than I’m used to, but this may be due to the fact that they’re very dark–if they were red, they might feel like a better match for me.
Here you can see the back and also get a look at the detailing of the ear. For whatever reason, one thing I always notice on a skin is the spine. On some skins, this area is completely smooth or barely shaded. Most of us have a clear spinal ridge down the center of our back, and skins that don’t acknowledge this always look odd to me. These skins handle that very well, with subtle but effective definition and shading.
Note that these skins are fully opaque and no mod, so they cannot be tinted. They are currently available with dark hair only–there is no bald head option and no other hair colors. However, Namssor does plan to expand the line in the future, so be on the lookout for more choices and options. I personally would like to see a bald version, for maximum flexbility with prim hair, and one with facial and body hair for redheads.
When I showed these skins to a friend to get his reaction, he mentioned the Uncanny Valley hypothesis and wondered if the skins might have that effect for some. (In short, the Uncanny Valley hypothesis suggests that, as artistic and other representations of humans progress from more stylized to more human, we respond to them more warmly and positively–up to a point. This is not meant to be a full description of the effect; follow the link above to read more.) I find this to be a fascinating question and will be curious to see how many men I see wearing these skins over time. Regardless, the design work on these skins is masterfully done. If you’re looing for a new skin, I encourage you to visit Second Skin Labs and check these out. Only you can decide if they’re the right choice for you.
The MGX 2.0 “Adam” skin is priced at L$5000 for the set that includes smooth and hairy skins in five facial hair variations, for a total of ten combinations. Demos are available for L$1 in the store, so you can try before you buy.
Available at Second Skin Labs (Koss 76, 6, 104).